The City Council shot down the $30,000 raise that the mayor had proposed for City Manager Timothy Dodge but did agree late Wednesday to boost his pay by $15,000.
The compromise was hammered out during a closed-door session that lasted just under four-and-a-half hours, the longest executive session the Council has had in recent memory.
During that time, the governing body reached middle ground on two other key issues. It reduced the term of Dodge’s contract from two years to 15 months, and it eliminated the severance provision that called for Dodge to be paid four months of salary if the city were to terminate him without cause.
Members of the governing body emerged from their executive session at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and then voted unanimously to approve the contract without much public discussion.
“The unanimous vote should show you that we have confidence in you and we will work with you to move the city forward in a positive manner,” Councilman Vince Howell told Dodge.
“Mayor and Council, I appreciate the vote of confidence, and I appreciate working for the city of Las Vegas,” Dodge responded. “Thank you very much.”
The raise takes Dodge’s salary to $110,000 a year, which represents a nearly 16 percent increase. The contract also states that he is eligible for annual pay increases of between 1 and 5 percent, depending on his evaluations.
This is the first pay raise Dodge has received in the four years he’s worked for the city. The contract runs from April 1 until June 30, 2014.
A small army of police officers were present as the meeting started. Seven officers were inside the Council chambers, with one officer posted at each of the three entrances as the meeting got under way at 5 p.m.
“They say people shouldn’t fear their government, but that government should fear the people,” quipped Lee Einer, the only person who signed up to provide public input. “I guess mission accomplished.”
Police Chief Christian Montaño told the Optic after the meeting that the heavy police presence was the result of reports that people were planning to disrupt the meeting. He said the officers were brought in to ensure everyone’s safety.
In his remarks to the governing body, Einer asked the Council to reject the proposed two-year contract for Dodge that had been posted on the city’s website. The proposed contract would have increased Dodge’s pay to $125,000 and given him four months of severance pay if he were to be terminated without just cause.
Einer argued that the $42,000 penalty the city would have to pay Dodge under the proposed contract would likely violate the city charter. But the bigger issue, Einer said, is the proposed $30,000 raise.
“I best most of the entry level employees at the city don’t make $30,000 a year,” he said. “This is an issue of economic injustice… It’s not right, not when you have people who are having a tough time keeping the lights on.”
Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron initially objected to the governing body going into executive session without any discussion, saying she wanted to publicly comment on some aspects of the contract for the record. But City Attorney Dave Romero advised the council that all matters related to the contract needed to be discussed in executive session.
A few dozen people were in the audience at the beginning of the meeting, but by the time the governing body returned from executive session, the audience was down to a handful.
Upon emerging, Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said, “It was a very productive meeting that we had.”